The Fifth National Convention of Right to Food Campaign was held at Sanand, Ahmedabad, India from 1st to 3rd March 2014. The theme of the convention was “National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Beyond: Right to Food, Democracy and Social Justice”. The convention was attended by delegates from 17 states of India and also by participants from other South Asian countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Various grassroots movements involved in the Right to Food Campaign took an active part in the convention with some delegates travelling for 4-5 days to reach the convention. The convention was animated with a diverse representation of activists, trade-unionists, scholars, academicians, environmentalists, workers, peasants and others representing various strata and sections of the society.
As is evident from the title “National Food Security Act (NFSA) and Beyond: Right to Food, Democracy and Social Justice” the conference discussed and debated beyond the Right to Food Act which was passed by the Indian parliament in the last year. There were efforts to look into the issues of Food Sovereignty and a sustainable basis for food security beyond the food distribution. It dealt with approaches in eliminating hunger and inequalities and about building alliances to strengthen democracy. Apart from the plenary dealing with the focal issues, a number of parallel workshops discussed enhanced production and decentralized procurement in agriculture including GM, Seed Bill, etc.; forest rights and commons; seasonal migrant workers’ issues; women’s unpaid work in the context of poverty and human rights; changing land use for industrialization and non-agricultural issues and its impacts on livelihood, food security and food safety; right to work; role of media, wage subsidy; construction workers acts; fisher folk, nomadic tribes, adivasis and other marginalised groups and the right to food; exclusion; global trade rules, WTO treaties and its implication to right to food; tribal issues; water policy; disability and right to food; minimum wages, work conditions, identity and food security of domestic workers; right to food in conflict areas; pension and social security, etc. A number of action points were chalked out in each of these areas for the next 2-3 years.
The conference ended enthusiastically with a public meeting on ‘Gujarat’s Development – Claims and Reality’ and the ‘Ahmedabad declaration on the Right to Food, Democracy and Social Justice’.
SAAPE members were present in the convention and the fourth SAAPE Poverty Report, "Crises, Vulnerability and Poverty in South Asia: People’s Struggles for Justice and Dignity" was also launched on 2nd March at the convention. SAAPE contributed in pushing the agenda forward at a South Asian level and explaining the need to create a network across the South Asian region. SAAPE was introduced to various organisations, alliances and networks present at the convention. They also appreciated the SAAPE Poverty Report.
By Praman Adhikari, Preeza Shrestha & Sushovan Dhar